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A visual interface for the act of reading
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Comparative Critical Studies 1, 1–2, pp. 97–118 © BCLA 2004
According to Addison, Livy ‘describes every thing in so lively a
manner, that his whole History is an admirable Picture, and touches on
such proper Circumstances in every Story, that his Reader becomes a
kind of Spectator’.
In his 1712 Spectator paper on ‘The Pleasures of
the Imagination’, Addison appraises Livy according to the Aristotelian
tradition of ‘energeia’, or ‘bringing before the eyes’.
To read is to
visualise and thus to enter a virtual experience. Inaugurating the arts
section of The Analytical Review in 1788, Henry Fuseli identifies
‘turning readers into spectators’ as the task of the exhibitions that had
been flourishing in London since the opening of the first public arenas
for art in the 1760s. By the time Fuseli writes, spectatorship is no
longer only a virtual enactment of reading, but an interaction between
a public and pictures in an exhibition space. As a consequence, different
cultural practices are involved in turning readers into spectators in a
gallery, rather than as an effect of reading. But how different? This
essay explores the complementarities between the acts of reading and
viewing by way of Wolfgang Iser’s reader response methodology. I will
start by analysing the role of visual analogy in Iser’s work. Then I will
reconstruct how readers were turned into spectators at the first London
exhibitions in the late eighteenth century. Finally, I will present Henry
Fuseli’s Milton Gallery as an example of reader response, by recon-
structing Fuseli’s Paradise Lost as a scene of reading.
Before using The Act of Reading to analyse the act of viewing, I want
to show how the ‘implied spectator’ comes before as much as after The
Act of Reading, in that viewing provides a source of analogies for the
fashioning of the implied reader. Iser defines ‘the implied reader’ as ‘a
transcendental model which makes it possible for the structured effects
of literary texts to be described’. Such a model is embodied in ‘a
textual structure anticipating the presence of a recipient’ and
‘prestructuring’ his/her role.
The implied reader ‘embodies all those
predispositions necessary for a literary work to exercise its effect –
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predispositions laid down ... by the text itself’ (AR34). The ‘intended
reader’ may be an ‘idealised reader’, or the anticipated contemporary
reader, who is figured as ‘a sort of inhabitant of the text’ through
explicit apostrophes, surrogate positions and other signals. The differ-
ence between the intended reader and the reader’s role is presented in
terms of spectatorship. The intended reader is
not independent of the other textual perspectives, such as narrator, characters, and
plot-line ... the fictitious reader is, in fact, just one of several perspectives, all of which
interlink and interact. The role of the reader emerges from this interplay of
In trying to bring home the ways in which the text creates and locates
its reader, Iser resorts to linear perspective. Readers ‘must be placed in
a position which enables them to actualize the new view’, that is ‘the
perspective intended by the author’ (AR35):
The text must therefore bring about a standpoint from which the reader will be able to
view things that would never have come into focus as long as his own habitual
dispositions were determining his orientation, and what is more, this standpoint must be
able to accommodate all kinds of different readers … the literary text offers a perspective
view of the world … it is also, in itself, composed of a variety of perspectives that outline
the author’s view and also provide access to what the reader is meant to visualize. This
is best exemplified by the novel, which is a system of perspectives designed to transmit
the individuality of the author’s vision. … [These perspectives] provide guidelines
originating from different starting points (narrator, characters, etc.), continually
shading into each other and devised in such a way that they all converge on a general
meeting place. We call this meeting place the meaning of the text, which can only be
brought into focus if it is visualised from a standpoint. (AR35).
The passage quoted might suggest that reading can be a panoptic form
of regulation that fixes a passive, receptive reader by prescribing the
only point of view from which the picture comes into focus according
to the perspective of the author. Yet, elsewhere in the essay the model
is much more dynamic. Comprehension is achieved thanks to a
‘moving view point’ whereby the reader continuously adjusts and links
partial perspectives into anticipated wholes that keep shifting.
This second, more dynamic concept of perspective can be traced
back to a series of sources. First of all, Iser works within the pheno-
menological tradition, and his thesis is particularly akin to Roman
Ingarden’s reworking of Edmund Husserl in his analysis of the literary
work’s ‘schematised views’ (‘Die Schicht der Schematisierten
While Ingarden was writing Das literarische Kunstwerk in
1927–8, he was in close contact with Husserl, who, in turn, was writing
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the ‘Phenomenology’ entry for Encyclopaedia Britannica.
described the phenomenological approach to perception in ways that
help understand Ingarden’s and Iser’s analysis of the act of reading. In
Husserl’s phenomenological account, an object of consciousness turns
out to be formed of a series of ‘changing “perspectives”’, or
‘multiplicities of different appearances, even though it is given and
grasped as continuously one and the same thing’.
Husserl is confront-
ing what Immanuel Kant termed the ‘third manifold’, i.e. nature in its
contingencies, what escapes the subject in its need to subsume the
particular under the universal in teleological judgements.
phenomenology takes up the ‘infinite task’ involved in determining an
object followed through what Husserl elsewhere defined ‘the manifold
of possible kinetic changes’, or ‘the infinite progression of experience’.
Similarly, Ingarden discussed the literary work in terms of the
‘continuous manifold of aspects that are constantly merging into one
another … subject to its own transformation, which is connected to its
own particular time structure’.
Yet the phenomenological tradition
distinguishes between objects in themselves and their intentional
structure, i.e. how they are objectified in acts of consciousness. The
object itself can remain unaffected in its autonomy.
Despite its reliance on a classical view of textual wholeness, the
phenomenological focus on perception opens up huge possibilities in
terms of artistic experimentation. Iser’s view of perception and the
virtual nature of literary works is best understood through his fusion of
the phenomenological tradition with the psychology of perception and
the visual practices whereby the phenomenology and psychology of
perception were tested in 1960s art. In fleshing out the reader’s role as
‘picturing’, ‘one of the activities through which we form the “Gestalt”
of a literary text’, Iser draws from Ernst Gombrich’s model of ‘schema
and correction’ in visual perception, and the concept of figure and
ground in Gestalt psychology.
Furthermore, Iser’s analogy between
reading and spectatorship and his dynamic and shifting concept of
perspective in reader response is in line with 1960s artistic experiments
that played on the mechanisms of perception by evoking and frus-
trating expectations and sought to explode the conventions of linear
perspective as developed in Renaissance painting. In the final chapter
of The Implied Reader, ‘The Reading Process: A Phenomenological
Approach’, first published in English in New Literary History, Iser
described reading as a ‘kaleidoscope of perspectives’.
analogy evoked a whole field of expanded perception to an audience
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that had familiarity with the kinetic light constructions, prism pictures,
mobiles, and stroboscopic effects that were popular in the 1960s. For
instance, a number of kaleidoscopes by Joël Stein were part of
Participation à la recherche d’un nouveau spectateur, an exhibition of the
work of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel at the Ostwall Museum
in Dortmund in 1968.
Since the Paris Biennale of 1961, the GRAV
had been following in the tradition of Victor de Vasarely and Yaacov
Agam, exploring forms of art that would reveal ever-new configura-
tions dependent on the spectator’s shifting point of view. Movement
revealed how these artworks changed and had to be perceived through
In their ‘Thèses sur le mouvement’, the GRAV artists attacked
the idea of the autonomy of art, emphasizing that art exists only by
virtue of its relationship with the spectator, whom they tried to engage
in experiments in a multidimensional art ‘that creates new seeing
The link between artistic experimentation on perspective, specta-
torial participation and the construction of reader response also comes
to the fore in an earlier issue of New Literary History, in which Stanley
Fish had also resorted to a visual analogue to flesh out the act of
reading against the notion of the text’s self-sufficiency and completeness,
stabilised as a stationary object:
Kinetic art … forces you to be aware of ‘it’ as a changing object – and therefore no
‘object at all’ – and also to be aware of yourself as correspondingly changing. Kinetic
art does not lend itself to a static interpretation because it refuses to stay still and
doesn’t let you stay still either. In its operation it makes inescapable the actualising role
of the observer. Literature is a kinetic art, but the physical form it assumes prevents us
from seeing its essential nature, even though we so experience it.
The new, dynamic perspective that Iser and Fish share with kinetic
and optical art breaks away from the illusionistic and stabilising drive
of Renaissance linear perspective.
This model presented a disembodied
mind independent of the object of vision. Jonathan Crary shows how
illusionistic, ready-made visual spectacles were substituted by techno-
logies of vision such as the stereoscope, invented in the 1830s to
capture and represent the process of perception. This new regime of
vision postulated an embodied viewer, rather than the detached,
dualistic subject of Cartesianism, and this involved a movement away
from an aesthetic experience centred on a perfect and autonomous
artwork. Rather than receiving a ready-made image and a fixed
viewpoint, spectators would be confronted with artworks that imitated
the process of perception, a multifarious multiplication of appearances,
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the manifold that escaped the unity of apperception through which
Kant constructed the possibility and communicability of experience.
By dwelling on the manifold of experience and point of view, the
phenomenology of perception and kinetic art try to recuperate the
infinite potentialities of the aesthetic, thus counteracting the unified
subjectivity and unified point of view of the perceiver.
In my opinion, Crary’s focus on the 1830s watershed should be
revised, because the kinetic multiplication of points of view is
something viewers already experienced when they were first exposed to
pictures stacked floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall at the new exhibitions
that had opened in the 1760s, before the multifarious nature of sense-
perception was thematised in Turner’s pictures in the 1840s. Yet
Crary’s trajectory from a disembodied regime of vision to one that
focuses on the process of perception is crucial to understand the move
from a concept of art as perfect in and of itself to a performative view
of the artwork as a collaboration between text and spectator or reader
that characterises reader response.
Reading, for Iser, is a process of ‘image-building’ triggered by
instructions within the text. ‘A sequence of mental images is bound to
arise during the reading process’ (AR36), but Iser stresses that this
type of visualisation doesn’t place the reader before a film. Whilst, as
we have seen, Iser’s reader is informed by a dynamic view of per-
ception, when it comes to film, Iser takes on the antipictorialist view,
and sees it as the imposition of a ready-made performance ‘narrowed
down to one complete and immutable picture’. By contrast, reading is
presented as a dynamic process. At every turn of phrase, a new per-
spective prompts the reader to reshape the Gestalt of the text.
Similarly, Fish contrasts literature as a kinetic art, which moves as we
move while reading it, to literature as a static object, no longer a
temporal, but a spatial experience. The criticism he denounces ‘steps
back and in a single glance takes in a whole (sentence, page, work)
which the reader knows (if at all) only bit by bit, moment by
As these two models of literature both draw from the visual
arts, they uncover the possibility of a temporal as much as spatial
perception of the visual arts. In doing so, they challenge G.E.Lessing’s
1766 distinction according to which the visual arts express themselves
in space, whereas the verbal arts in time.
Iser’s idea of ‘a shifting position of the vantage point’ is particularly
fertile in understanding the first exhibition environments in the late
eighteenth century. As we shall see, not only did the new exhibition
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spaces accommodate people looking at pictures from different points of
view, but multifarious points of view dazzled them as pictures stacked
from wall to ceiling rivalled for their attention, not to speak of what
happened to point of view when such viewers moved across the
exhibition space. To unify the competing lures of that space, viewers
were encouraged to draw on their experience as readers and order the
multidimensional experience in front of them by analogy with the
linearity of reading. Much as Iser’s model of reading, exhibition
aesthetics also depends on how to arrange a sequence of images. If Iser
understands reading through adaptation from within cinema culture,
exhibitions could be constructed as early examples of adaptation by
analogy with the act of reading because they were a new medium for a
culture accustomed to reading.
Iser’s work has already been applied to art historical concerns. In his
edited volume Der Betrachter ist im Bild (The Spectator is in the
Picture), Wolfgang Kemp sampled the ways in which Iser’s reader
response methodology is consonant with art history new and old.
Kemp’s ‘implizierte Betrachter’ literalises Iser’s image of the reader as
a spectator and of perspective as ‘a line of junction between the viewer
and the work’.
Through an analysis of the aids to reception and the
places of indeterminacy, Kemp translates Iser’s ‘gaps’ and ‘blanks’ into
the formal structures of painting. The ‘functional blanks’ of painting
are opened up by perspective and the direction of movement and sight
of the characters represented. Through these means painting calls on
the spectator to make up for its limits by expanding beyond the space
represented within the canvas, and pointing towards something
happening in a place outside its boundaries, hors du champ.
Following Addison and Fuseli, I wish to test the complementarity
between ‘implied reader’ and ‘implied viewer’. Whilst Kemp adapts
Iser’s gaps, ‘the unseen joints of the text’, to a formal analysis of
painting, my paper investigates how those who went to the first public
exhibitions were fashioned by aids of reception that were still part of
the culture of books, i.e. gallery catalogues, titles and quotations.
Exhibitions first interpellate a general and anonymous public in what
constitutes a turning point in the relationship between artists and their
public. In positing spectators as a new, unknown factor to be con-
structed with the tools of a literary culture, my work is inspired by
Lucy Newlyn’s use of reader response to investigate how the Romantics
handled anonymous readers by trying to create the taste by which they
wanted to be judged.
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Reading fashioned the exhibition experience insofar as pictures were
seen as plots that a public of readers would recognise and activate. A
year after the first opening of public exhibitions in London, A Call to
the Connoisseurs addressed spectators ‘previous to a View to the present
Exhibitions of the Modern Artists’. The pamphlet identified the
constituency of viewers according to their aesthetic skills. Whilst
painters would appreciate the colour, design and technique of a
picture, only the story would make pictures meaningful to the general
To fashion a spectator out of a reader meant to draw on
centuries of literacy and to graft literary knowledge onto the new
cultures of viewing. In his 1783 annotations to Du Fresnoy’s De Arte
Graphica, Sir Joshua Reynolds claimed that the subject of a historical
painting has to be ‘a story generally known; for the Painter,
representing one point of time only, cannot inform the spectator what
preceded the event’.
As a consequence, the subject had to be
‘borrowed from Poets, Historians, or popular tradition’. This required
more work than with a newly invented story, because the painter ‘is
bound to follow the ideas which he has received, and to translate them
… into another art’.
Both the 1761 pamphlet and Reynolds anticipate
P.Bourdieu and A. Darbel’s contention that, because there is no ‘pure
aesthetic gaze’ capable of appreciating pictures intuitively, the display
of labels, inscriptions, and other forms of classification identifies the
museum’s intended viewers, who must be provided with the initial
tools that enable them to activate what Bourdieu calls their ‘cultural
An analysis of gallery catalogues confirms that the audience
addressed involved ‘implied readers’, in that titles and literary pointers
were aids for the reception of pictures.
In tackling the indeterminacies of the text, Iser’s reader relies on the
‘conventions necessary for the establishment of a situation’, or what he
terms ‘repertoire’, ‘the familiar territory within the text’: ‘the repertoire
incorporates both the origin and the transformation of its elements’
(AR69). Literature offered a chart through the indeterminate territory
of exhibitions. The canon of literary pictures highlights the ambition of
painters, who capitalized on the prestige of literary sources to establish
their reputation, and that of painting as a medium. Yet it also suggests
to what extent, when they ventured outside the precincts of portrait
painting, key painters were counting on an audience of readers. Such
subject pictures were the most likely to feature in reviews, and readers
would thus be called upon to activate known stories. Yet the gallery
exposure also contributed to furthering the cause of literary texts in
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that, whilst exhibitions were marketed as displays of sociability, ‘a very
crouded and brilliant route of persons of the first fashion’,
at the same time also presented as democratizing ventures for the
circulation of cultural capital beyond the precincts of connoisseurs and
persons of distinction. Some reviews set out to provide context and
quotations: ‘Cephalus and Procris being the subject of one of the
Pictures, at the Exhibition of the Royal Academy, the particulars of the
story are inclosed for the entertainment of your unclassical readers’.
Shakespeare was by far the most popular source of Royal Academy
literary pictures, followed by Paradise Lost, and then The Iliad and The
Odyssey, The Faerie Queene, The Seasons and Jerusalem Delivered.
Novels seemed to have more short-lived visibility. Sterne’s Sentimental
Journey, which was frequently depicted until 1780, is a special case in
that it is a narrative framed into pictures and thus particularly
amenable to visual scanning. Ariosto, Ossian, Gray and Goldsmith also
featured on the walls of the exhibitions. Indeed, the texts most
frequently depicted featured what David Alexander has called ‘affecting
moments’ and were part of the culture of sensibility.
Royal Academy Catalogues from 1769 to 1800 construct their
implied viewers by relating pictures to literary texts in a number of
different ways. I will take the function of titles as my example. Some
titles assume a degree of information on the part of the viewer, clearly
seen as a reader who is turning into a spectator. Titles like ‘Vide the
Mysteries of Udolpho’ (S.Drummond, RA 1799, no. 59) either assume
the immediate transparency of the topic — the literary text evoked by
the picture ready at hand — or stand as prompts to further reading
after the viewing experience. More puzzling are titles that give the title
and page reference of the literary source, as if the viewer knew the text
by heart, or was carrying a copy of it at the exhibition. In sum, such
titles imply a well-read spectator, or one who would take his exhibition
catalogue home and use it as a guide to identify which part of the text
to select and read. In more viewer-friendly contexts, titles identify
characters or offer abridged plots. When the title consists in naming its
characters, the picture calls upon the viewer who is not (yet) a reader
to create a story on the basis of the picture’s generic frames. Less
foreknowledge, but also less scope for the reader’s inventive interaction,
is required by titles paraphrasing the action. There are various degrees
of paraphrase. The titles may suggest the moment chosen from the
book, as in C.R.Ryley’s ‘The last interview between Charlotte and
Werter’ (RA 1786, no. 75). Some titles thus also activate a repertoire of
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similar scenes and cross-fertilise with other ‘last interview’ pieces.
Such a generative potential is partly kept in check when the title of the
literary source is added to the title of the scene excerpted, giving the
viewer enough information for further reading, or to help him/her
recollect a past reading experience. At times, titles become mini-plots
in action, as in C. R. Riley’s ‘Orestes on the Point of being sacrificed to
Diana, discovers the Priestess to be his Sister Iphigenia.| Vide Euripidis
Iphig. In Tauris. Act. 4.’ (RA 1779, no. 281). In this case the viewer
who is not an implied reader is helped into the picture; s/he is not
called to collaborate in the production of the text by fleshing out the
action and turning a nominal phrase into one endowed with verb and
action, because the title automatically ‘brings the action before the eye’,
thus fulfilling the requirements of ‘energeia’ laid out by Aristotle.
While titles naming characters or paraphrasing actions imply a plot
digested and reduced to topoi of inventio, entries combining titles and
quotations draw from both inventio and elocutio – i.e. the subject-
matter and its linguistic expression broken down into easy units readily
endowed with mnemonic images. John Guillory has emphasised how
the sinews of language are made of reading practices centring on the
use of commonplace books.
While the art of memory requires that
the text be dismembered in its topoi and located in literal ‘places’ of
memory, the commonplace book is the verbal effect of such practices
on the side of elocutio. A literary text is reduced to its most memorable
passages, which are disjointed, learnt by heart and ‘remembered in
tranquillity’, i.e. applied to other contexts and made to circulate in
everyday life. The exhibition space combines both moments. As the
commonplace book anthologises an individual’s favourites, literary
quotations in exhibition catalogues may be read as a form of collective
anthologisation, which scanned texts for their ‘beauties’, ‘morals’, and
climactic moments so that the spectators were equipped with ready-
made excerpts to embellish their polite conversation. Royal Academy
Catalogues had housed roughly one quotation per exhibition between
1769 and 1786, when quotations were forbidden; but after 1798 they
came back with a vengeance as the number of paintings exhibited
increased from the order of 600 to that of over a thousand. Between
1798 and 1800 the number of quotations ranged from twenty-two to
forty-two per catalogue.
To these should be added the quotations
excerpted in reviews, which provided a further aid to reception.
Another way in which reading helped encode exhibitions has to do
with the exhibition space itself. The protocols of reading contributed
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to the fashioning of protocols of viewing by influencing the format of
the exhibition space, its layout, classification, and the links whereby
the viewer could perceive pictures as part of a unified aesthetic
experience. In 1780 The Royal Academy Exhibitions moved to a
purpose-built exhibition space: the Great Room at Somerset House.
There, the pictures were ordered by what is called ‘the line of sight’.
This line was a fixed architectonic feature that allowed the wall to be
divided into two at the height of the spectator’s eye, and on which
would rest all the largest and most important pictures. Thus a
horizontal path allowed viewers to see pictures stacked from floor to
ceiling as arranged one beside the other sequentially. This new linear
ordering was accentuated by the new classification of the pictures in
the catalogues accompanying the exhibitions. For the first time, the
1780 Royal Academy exhibition catalogue printed entries numbered
according to the hanging sequence, rather than alphabetically under
the name of the painter. The sequential numbering would encourage
viewers to go from left to right, and look at one horizontal hanging line
at a time. As a review remarked, ‘the pictures now are regularly
numbered as they stand, so that the spectator has not his attention
distracted as before, by being obliged to run from one part of the room
to another, nor has he any difficulty in referring to the catalogue’.
a result, the freedom of directionality of the exhibition space was
contained, and a visual path was carved out in analogy with the
linearity of reading. The new classification would seem in conflict with
what was an increasing factor discriminating the pictures to foreground
from the mass of exhibits to be consigned to oblivion: the emerging
culture of celebrity. Another review, indeed, remarks that ‘the Catalogue
has hitherto been drawn up alphabetically; and this rendered it less
difficult to give a general Account of the Pictures, than the present
If going to the exhibition meant going to see
Reynolds, Gainsborough, West and Fuseli, then the new catalogue
classification did indeed oblige viewers to ‘run from one part of the
room to another’ in search of the productions of the stars. Yet, this was
obviated by the ordering influence of further reading matter: the
reviews. For ease of reference, reviews divided their subject matter
into headings listed according to the exhibition number, the title of the
painting and the name of the painter under discussion, so that the
reader could walk around the exhibition and only take in the pictures
selected by the reviewer.
The tendency to impose the linear order of the written text to the
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centrifugal lures of the exhibition space is pushed to an extreme when
the entire gallery visualizes a particular literary text, author, or subject.
The literary galleries turned the poets, Shakespeare, Milton and the
history of England into visual entertainments. Literary plots could
have endowed such exhibitions with the monographic coherence that
was lacking in the miscellaneous Royal Academy exhibitions.
because The Gallery of Poets and The Shakespeare Gallery were
anthological and failed to present a text in its key moments, those
exhibitions didn’t acquire unity through the cohesion of the literary
source. Nor did the pictures from David Hume’s History of England,
which were displayed at the Historic Gallery, despite the joint pressure
of the text’s story and the external chronology of history. Instead,
pictures were listed under the name of the painter, and painters were
not assigned a cluster of pictures from a coherent period.
By contrast, Fuseli’s Milton Gallery adapted the plot of Paradise
Lost into a sequence of pictures. The Milton Gallery Catalogue tried to
subsume the freedom of gaze elicited by the exhibition space under the
linearity of the text in a number of ways. First, the very fact that it
reproduced excerpts from the poem suggests that the reader was
engaged in patching them together in a continuous linear narrative.
Secondly, the poem’s linear narrative was strengthened by the typo-
graphical layout of the catalogue itself. The Milton Gallery Catalogue
introduced a typographical innovation, in that it was divided into
columns, with the left indicating the picture’s sequence number, and
the book and line number it referred to, whilst reserving the quotations
for the right column. This layout helped the viewer, who would find it
easier to switch from reading to viewing and back, as s/he could lift
the eye to gaze on the picture and then easily find a way back into the
The reading and viewing encouraged by the catalogue produces an
aesthetic experience that layers shifting perspectives. In ‘Lifting our
eyes from the Page’ Yves Bonnefoy explores the importance of the
interruptions of reading. He argues that the reader’s freedom consists
in the capacity to pause and wander off on a reverie.
catalogues had this function. Lists of paintings published as advertise-
ments for exhibitions further encouraged readers into projecting
expectations by activating the titles into imaginary visualizations before
seeing the pictures displayed at exhibitions. Whilst the Milton Gallery
capitalized on this type of virtual reading, at the same time it ensured
that reading and viewing kept alternating. The viewer might tend to
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create a virtual whole out of the metonymic impulse of a picture, but
would then have to negotiate perspectival shifts in toing and froing
from picture to text, from picture to picture, and text to text.
Iser’s theory describes the collaboration between text and reader as a
‘filling-in process’. Gaps not only encourage the reader’s projections
but also his/her coordinating, synthesizing agency in welding hiatuses.
‘By suspending good continuation’ texts open up to rewriting. Blanks
break up the connectability of the text and call for the reader’s
combinatory skills as indeterminacies are refashioned into diegetic
Fuseli’s gallery-goer would have been familiar with the
suspensions, anticipations, and fulfillments characterizing serial publica-
tion, a shaping feature in the composition as much as the production,
distribution and reception of eighteenth-century texts, as Thomas
Keymer has shown.
Foregrounding textual indeterminacy with its
‘cutting technique’, the Milton Gallery disarticulates the plot at key
junctures by excerpting climactic moments and exposing them to the
interruptions materialised in the blanks between quotations. In addition
to the blanks between picture entries, Fuseli signalled his editorial
interventions by blanks and dashes within entries, documenting jumps
by line numbers to the left of the entry, and thus helping readers to
find their place from one end to the other of the hiatus. Viewers and
readers were thus asked to join in a collaborative act of connection.
The text’s exposed seams differentiate Fuseli’s Milton Gallery
Catalogue from John Wesley’s 1763 An Extract of Paradise Lost. To
compare their cutting technique is to confront two opposing concepts
of textuality. In contrast to Fuseli’s mangled entries, Wesley presents a
smooth surface that elides the signs of editorial intervention: no dots,
dashes or blanks indicate Wesley’s manipulation of Milton’s text. The
reader is presented with a ready-made whole.
A juxtaposition of
Wesley’s Extract to Fuseli’s Milton Gallery Catalogue shows how texts
metamorphose in the eyes of the reader. Depending on the point of
view the same textual locations may be read as gaps or excrescences.
Despite their differences, both Wesley and Fuseli practice an exercise
of interruption and good continuation, much as Richard Bentley did in
his 1732 edition of Paradise Lost. Bentley butchered Paradise Lost by
cutting out what he saw as interpolated passages: ‘tis a silly Interrup-
tion of the Story in the very middle, which ought to have been
continued; and casting 55 Lines out, aptly coheres thus…’
excision contains both a destructive and a reconstructive textual
practice. The blanks between quotations could be seen either as
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bringing together the essential, climactic turns in the text, or as
restoring its true cohesion by finding the ‘mangled Limbs of our Poet,
scatter’d among’ the lines and trying to ‘have the Features of Milton’
‘with some help of Surgery’.
However, whilst Wesley welds hiatuses,
the Milton Gallery follows the vogue for serial, climactic discontinuity,
which has led Meisel to assimilate the theatre to magic lantern shows.
Moving from editorial to aesthetic practice, Wesley’s abridgement
provides a counter-image to Fuseli’s Milton Gallery. Fuseli’s philo-
logical exercise consists in restoring Bentley’s and Wesley’s rejects, in
unearthing the lacunae of the text.
By exhibiting a reversal of Bentley’s
guiding principles, Fuseli’s Milton Gallery does indeed question ‘with
what success’ Bentley (and Wesley) went about ‘amending and
commenting on’ Milton’s text. Wesley’s Extracts reads the description
of Sin as:
About her middle round
A crew of hell hounds never ceasing rung
A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturbed their noise, into her womb,
Yet there still bark’d and howl’d – the other shape …
This means cutting out the Cerberus connotation and the Scylla and
Lapland orgies similes:
yet there still barked and howled,
Within unseen. Far less abhorred than these
Vexed Scylla bathing in the sea that parts
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore:
Nor uglier follow the Night-hag, when called
In secret, riding through the air she comes
Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon
Eclipses their charms. The other shape …
Bentley had also disposed of this passage, which he labelled as ‘trash’.
In the Milton Gallery Fuseli singles out the Lapland orgies simile and
not only does he restore it, but he even promotes it from the subordinate
status of simile to that of main plot. In describing Satan’s journey
through Chaos, Wesley prunes or compresses the comparison of infernal
noises to Bellona’s war engines (PL, II, 921–4), Satan’s renewed ascent
after the fall through the ‘vast vacuity’ (PL, II, 933–5), and
As when a gryphon through the wilderness
With winged course o’er hill or moory dale,
Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth
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Had from his wakeful custody purloined
The guarded gold: so eagerly the fiend
O’er bog or steep, through straight, rough, dense, or rare
With head, hands, wings or feet pursues his way,
And swims or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies
PL, II, 943–50
Again this is precisely what Fuseli takes up as an image of Satan’s
journey (MG 10). Then Wesley goes on to purge the company of
sable-vested Night: Orcus, Hades, Demogorgon, and Rumour. Finally
Wesley rejects the analogy between Satan’s voyage and The Odyssey
And more endangered, than when Argo passed
Through Bosporus, betwixt the jostling rocks:
Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunned
Charybdis, and by the other whirlpool steered
So with difficulty and labour hard
PL, II, 1016–1022
Wesley’s reject is foregrounded by Fuseli as it provides picture XII of
the Milton Gallery.
Fuseli reads for the action as if trying to uncover the classical epic
hidden within Paradise Lost. Much as his excerpts prune modifiers, his
script and pictures cut dilating and delaying factors such as cosmic
amplification and scene setting. Out go the encyclopedic encounter
with Raphael, the Creation and the War in Heaven. Furthermore,
Fuseli’s cuts simplify characterization. For instance, Satan is more
consistently heroic thanks to the elimination of the vacuity and the
heroicomic fall down and back up that shows his heteronomy in Chaos.
A key example of Fuseli’s simplification of plot is represented by the
way he rearranges the specular relationship between Adam and Eve.
Even if a gap of three books separates the dream of Eve (MG16) in
Book V from the creation of Eve in Book VIII (MG17), Fuseli’s
editing again manages to weld the juncture as if he were redeeming the
text from ‘interpolations’ in the Bentleyan style:
The Dream of rvr fancying to have tasted the Fruit from the Tree of interdicted Knowledge,
One shap’d and wing’d like one of those from Heaven.
———— Forthwith up to the clouds
With him I flew, and underneath beheld
The earth outstretch’d immense ————
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A Visual Interface for the Act of Reading 111
My guide was gone, and I, methought, sunk down,
And fell asleep; ————
MG 16, PL, V, 55, 86, 90
The creation of rvr, as related by +n+·.
Abstract as in a trance methought I saw,
Though sleeping, where I lay, and saw the shape
Still glorious before whom awake I stood;
Who stooping open’d my left side, and took
From thence a rib ————
Under his forming hands a creature grew,
———— so lovely fair,
That what seem’d fair in all the world, seem’d now
Mean, or in her summ’d up. ————
MG 17, PL, VIII, 462, 470
Mounted in a sequence, Eve’s and Adam’s flashbacks powerfully
expose the dynamics of the poem. Instead of being ‘for God in’ Adam
Eve looks up to Satan, while Adam is bent on Eve rather than
Thanks to what Fuseli edits out of his Milton Gallery the teleology
of Milton’s narrative is left out of the picture and the exercise in
connectability produces a plot that differs quite substantially from
Milton’s. By casting out Raphael and Michael, Fuseli eliminates
powerful teleological threading devices, to use Victor Shklovskii’s
In Paradise Lost, Raphael and Michael are needed not
only to mount the digressions onto the main body of the poem, but
also to order its hierarchy and highlight the teleological underpinnings
and justifications of the plot of Adam and Eve. This is nowhere more
evident than when the combinatory skill of Fuseli’s cut is broken loose
as he reassembles plot planes belonging to the main narrative with
those belonging to Michael’s cinematic sequence of man’s future. EVE
after the Sentence and departure of the Judge, despairing, supported by
ADAM (MG21) joins the sentence of the Judge to Adam and Eve’s
reaction to the Fall (PL, X, 224, 1007–1012a). The juncture with the
next picture changes Adam’s focus: at the end of MG21 he ‘to better
hopes his more attentive mind / Lab’ring had rais’d’, and the object of
this attentiveness is transformed by the pictorial sequence. In Paradise
Lost Adam turns away from Eve’s prospect of suicide and towards the
teleological plan of history and felix culpa indicated by the judge. In
the Milton Gallery, instead, what follows is the ‘pontifical’ art of Sin
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Dr++n and Sr× bridging the waste of Cn+os, and met by S+++× on his return from Earth.
———— The aggregated soil
Death with his mace petrific, cold and dry,
As with a trident smote, ————
———— and the mole immense wrought on
Over the foaming deep high arch’d, a bridge
Of length prodigious. ————
———— when behold
Satan in likeness of an Angel bright ————
———— Sin, his fair
Enchanting daughter, thus the silence broke:
O Parent, these are thy magnific deeds.
MG 22, PL, X, 293, 300, 326, 352
s+++× discovered on his Throne, after his return from Earth.
———— Down a while
He sat, and round about him saw unseen:
At last as from a cloud his fulgent head
And shape star-bright appear’d ————
———— all amaz’d
At that sudden blaze the Stygian throng
Bent their aspect ————
———— loud was th’acclaim:
Forth rush’d in haste the great consulting peers,
Rais’d from their dark Divan. ————
MG 23, PL, X, 447, 452, 455
This is followed by The Vision of the Lazar-house, The Vision of the
Deluge, and The Vision of Noah (MG 24–26), which are not mounted in
a sequence of Michael’s lessons in futurity, but are on the same plot
level as the visualisation of Satan’s triumph of Book X. While the
Vision of Noah should redirect the plot towards a potential happy
ending, providence is excluded from the picture:
The dismission of +n+· and rvr from Paradise.
In either hand the hast’ning Angel caught
Our ling’ring parents, and to th’eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappear’d.
They looking back, all th’eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Wav’d over by that flaming brand, the gate
With dreadful faces throng’d and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropt. ————
MG 27, PL, XII, 637
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A Visual Interface for the Act of Reading 113
The elimination of Raphael and Michael from Paradise Lost is a key
example of what Iser calls suspension of good continuation. Fuseli guts
Paradise Lost reducing it to a series of climactic moments or turns. As
he reconstructs the links between such moments, he provides a unity
of apperception, but at the same time leaves the blanks visible. The
gaps between pictures, and both between and within catalogue entries
offer the text to the perceiver, who, in turn, is free to rearticulate such
moments into different wholes. Unlike Wesley’s, Fuseli’s reconstituted
plot is at the same time open to the multiplicities of association
experienced by viewers and readers alike. It is for them to activate the
text into a whole.
If Paradise Lost, especially in Fuseli’s cut, gives some linearity to the
act of viewing, the toing and froing between picture and catalogue
subjects the literary text to a series of disjoining acts. Exhibition titles
and excerpted quotations transform the text into a set of fragments of
elocution that are easy to memorise and ready to be appropriated to the
uses of polite conversation and further textual production. Because of
the disjoining agency of image-scanning, it is for the viewer to provide
the diegetic cohesion lacking in the pictures. Poems published in
newspapers to advertise the literary galleries actualize the art of
memory as a walk through the topoi of the text/pictures in first-person
narratives in which the viewer substitutes his subject position for that
of Milton confronted with the materials to chain into a plot sequence,
or else impersonates Satan’s journey. George Dyer highlights the
productive potential inherent in the Milton Gallery by pointing out
how viewing the Milton Gallery may enthuse young poets, who may
catch Milton’s inspiration through Fuseli’s pictures:
And while the youthful Bard shall listening hang
On those sweet melodies, his raptur’d eye
Shall gaze upon the wonders of thy art,
And from the Painter catch the Poet’s fire.
Recounting the experience will imply inflecting the words coming
under the heading of such pictures: joining the analytical common-
places – those scanned images of good and evil – to the cumulative
commonplaces of elocution, the centos of suitable passages which can
be used on occasions such as those emblematically presented to the
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1 I dedicate this essay to Lucy Newlyn, thanking her for her insights and
provocations, and for years of fruitful discussions on reading and viewing.
2 J. Addison, Spectator, No. 420, in The Spectator, 5 vols, ed. by D. Bond (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1965), III, 574.
3 Aristotle, Aristotle On Rhetoric: a Theory of Civic Discourse, tr. and ed. by G. A.
Kennedy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 244–53.
4 W. Iser, The Act of Reading (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978),
pp. 38 and 34, hereafter cited in text as AR. See his critique of the figure of the
reader in the work of Riffaterre, Fish, and Wolff as ‘means of transcending the
limitations of (1) structural linguistics, (2) generative-transformational grammar,
or (3) literary sociology’, p. 34.
5 R. Ingarden, Das literarische Kunstwerk, p. 270, but see all chapter VIII. The
English translation renders this as ‘schematised aspects’, see The Literary Work of
Art, tr. by G.G. Grabowicz (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973), p.
255ff, which obscures Ingarden’s conscious preference for Husserl’s concept of
‘Ansicht’ as opposed to his later use of ‘Aspekt’ and ‘Abschattung’, see
Literarische Kunstwerk, p. 272, footnote 3 (Literary Work of Art, p. 256, footnote
6 See, for instance, the letters Husserl sent to Ingarden on 19 November 1927 and
26 December 1927 (which mentions the Encyclopaedia Britannica article), in E.
Husserl, Briefwechsel, ed. by K. Schuhmann, III: ‘Die Göttinger Schule’
(Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1994), 233–7.
7 E. Husserl, ‘Phenomenology’, p. 84, see 183 for the final, published English
8 I. Kant, Critique of Judgement, ‘Introduction’, §VIII, §76 and ‘First Introduction’,
§VII; tr. by W. Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987), pp. 32–3, 287–8, 407–9; I.
Kant, ‘Axioms of Intuition’, Critique of Pure Reason, Unified Edition, tr. by W. S.
Pluhar (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1996), pp. 234–5, and 232 footnote 30.
9 E. Husserl, Thing and Space: Lectures of 1907, tr. by R. Rojcewicz (Dordrecht:
Kluwer, 1997), paragraphs 38–39, pp. 110–113.
10 Ingarden, The Literary Work of Art, paragraph 40, p. 257.
11 For Iser’s references to Gombrich, see The Implied Reader, p. 283, where he
quotes E. Gombrich, Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial
Representation (London: Phaidon, 1962), p. 204, and The Act of Reading, pp. 90–2,
where he refers to Art and Illusion, p. 24, 99, 132, 144. For Gombrich’s critique of
the Gestalt School for its tendency to ‘minimise the role of learning and experience
in perception’, see Art and Illusion, p. 221. Whilst insisting on the role of training
and conventions, and on the complementarity between ways of seeing and artistic
styles, Gombrich agrees with the Gestalt school on the mind’s tendency towards
regularities and simplification, in its capacity to take in parts and fill in wholes as
part of an experience of trial and error, expectation and anticipation: ‘perspective
creates its most compelling illusion where it can rely on certain ingrained
expectations and assumptions on the part of the beholder’ (p. 221).
12 W. Iser, ‘The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach’, The Implied
Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett
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A Visual Interface for the Act of Reading 115
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), pp. 279–99: 279, 280, 283,
which first appeared in English in New Literary History 3: 2 (Winter 1972), 279–
13 Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel, Participation à la recherche d’un nouveau
spectateur (Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund, 11 February–31 March 1968), pp.
70–71, and p. 65 for Joël Stein’s personal statement on the kaleidoscope. On
Stein’s Kaleidoscopes, see F. Popper, Origins and Development of Kinetic Art, tr.
by S. Bann (London: Studio Vista, 1968), pp. 182 and 215 for another
Kaleidoscope Stein produced with Francisco Sobrino.
14 See Popper, Kinetic Art, p. 95; W. C. Seitz, The Responsive Eye (New York: The
Museum of Modern Art, 1965), p. 41.
15 Participation à la recherche d’un nouveau spectateur, p. 6. Their aim was ‘Werke
schaffen, die vervielfältigt werden können’, p. 7.
16 S. Fish, ‘Literature in the Reader: Affective Stylistics’, New Literary History 2: 1
(Autumn 1970), 123–162: 140. See Joseph Frank, ‘Spatial Form in Modern
Literature’, The Widening Gyre: Crisis and Mastery in Modern Literature (New
Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1963), 3–62; and his ‘Spatial Form: Thirty
Years After’, Critical Inquiry 4 (1977), 231–52, reprinted in Spatial Form in
Narrative, ed. by J. R. Smitten and A. Daghistany (Ithaca: Cornell University
Press, 1981), pp. 202–243.
17 For the geometrical patterns whereby 1960s optical art evokes Renaissance linear
perspective as a viewing habit to trouble and distort, see The Responsive Eye, 30–31.
18 See J. Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth
Century (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990). For an account of how twentieth-
century art subverts linear perspective, see R. Krauss, The Optical Unconscious
(Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993), pp. 94–146. The idea of the detached,
dualistic spectator may be found in R. Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), pp. 143–4.
19 On the attempt to ignore the viewer in mid-eighteenth-century French salon
pictures, and its implications for ‘l’art pour l’art’, see M. Fried, Absorption and
Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1980). On ‘l’art pour l’art’, see F. Burwick, Mimesis and its
Romantic Reflections (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001).
20 The Implied Reader, pp. 277, 283.
21 Fish, ‘Literature in the Reader’, 140–141, and Frank, cited in footnote 16.
22 Der Betrachter ist im Bild: Kunstwissenchaft und Rezeptionsästhetik (Köln: DuMont,
23 For the concept of ‘der implizierte Betrachter’ (‘the implied spectator’), see W.
Kemp, Der Anteil des Betrachters: Rezeptionsästhetische Studien zur Malerei des 19.
Jahrhunderts (München: Mäander, 1983), p. 32. For an analysis of the role of the
spectator in the picture, see also W. Kemp, ‘Death at Work: A Case Study on
Constitutive Blanks in Nineteenth-Century Painting’, tr. by R. Meyer,
Representations 10 (Spring 1985), 102–123, and in particular 108–112.
24 See L. Newlyn, Reading, Writing, and Romanticism: The Anxiety of Reception
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).
25 A Call to the Connoisseurs, or Decisions of Sense, with respect to the Present State of
Painting and Sculpture, and their several Professors in these Kingdoms (London,
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1761), pp. 9–11. By denouncing the reduction of picture to plot, the pamphlet
highlighted that painters only were competent judges of painting, and thus
claimed the autonomy of painting as a liberal art, and at the same time attacked
connoisseurs and art dealers as incompetent and detrimental judges. By contrast,
Daniel Webb claims the privilege of a polite spectator as opposed to the art
practitioner, see D. Webb, An Inquiry into the Beauties of Painting (London,
1760), 18; and S. Copley, ‘The Fine Arts in Eighteenth-Century Polite Culture’,
in Painting and the Politics of Culture: New Essays on British Art 1700–1850, ed. by
J. Barrell (Oxford, 1992), pp. 21–2.
26 See The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 3 vols, ed. by E. Malone, (London: Cadell,
1798), III, 104.
27 See Malone, Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, III, 108.
28 P. Bourdieu and A. Darbel, L’amour de l’art, les musées et leur public (Paris, 1966).
See also P. Bourdieu, ‘The Pure Gaze: Essays on Art’, The Field of Cultural
Production, ed. and tr. by R. Johnson (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993), part III,
29 See Winckelmann on the complementary relationship between Homer’s epic and
ancient art, J. J.Winckelmann, ‘Prefazione’, Monumenti antichi inediti spegati e
illustrati da Giovanni Winckelmann, 2 vols (Rome, 1767), I, xvi, xviii–xix. The
opposite was also considered true: newly discovered monuments of the ancient
world are a guide to an understanding of ancient writers. Pace Shaftesbury,
Winckelmann finds ancient art a guide to understand the Iliad and the Odyssey,
which were its sources, cfr p. xviii. See also J. Spence, Polymetis (London, 1747),
30 London Chronicle, 27–29 April 1769, p. 402; also printed in The Gazetteer and the
New Daily Advertiser on 28 April.
31 Whitehall Evening Post, 13–16 May 1769, p. 3.
32 D. Alexander, Affecting Moments. Prints of English Literature Made in the Age of
Romantic Sensibility 1775–1800 (York, 1993).
33 See Aristotle On Rhetoric, pp. 244–53.
34 J. Guillory, Cultural Capital: the Problem of Literary Canon Formation (Chicago:
Chicago University Press, 1993); ‘Literary Capital: Gray’s Elegy, Anna Laetitia
Barbauld, and the Vernacular Canon’, in Early Modern Conceptions of Property,
ed. by J. Brewer and S. Staves (London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 389–410.
35 Quotations were forbidden in 1786, cfr CM II, 26; 353, 355. Quotations would
surely increase the number of pages in the catalogues. In 1798 a six pence charge
for the Catalogues was added to the one shilling admission fee: see S. Hutchison,
The History of the Royal Academy 1768–1968 (London: Chapman & Hall, 1968),
36 London Chronicle (2–4 May 1780), p. 428. The Whitehall Evening Post (29 April–2
May 1780), p. 4.
37 St James’s Chronicle; or British Evening-Post (29 April–2 May 1780), p. 4.
38 On reviews and the rhetoric of celebrity, whereby works on display were
discussed in terms of the individual reputation and artistry of painters, see M.
Hallett, ‘“The Business of Criticism”: The Press and the Royal Academy
Exhibition in Eighteenth-Century London’, in Art on the Line, ed. by D. Solkin
(New Haven: Yale University Press), p. 68.
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39 John Boydell’s Shakspeare Gallery, Thomas Macklin’s Poets’ Gallery, and
William Bowyer’s Historic Gallery opened in London in the late 1780s to exhibit
paintings that had been commissioned for illustrated editions, and served as
marketing ventures to launch them. Henry Fuseli’s Milton Gallery was conceived
as a cycle of painting, later funded in conjunction with an illustrated edition to be
published by Joseph Johnson. However, Fuseli kept painting after the publishing
venture folded and opened the Milton Gallery independently in 1799 and 1800.
See T. S. R. Boase, ‘Macklin and Bowyer’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld
Institutes XXVI (1963), 148–177; The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, ed. by F.
Burwick and W. Pape (Bottrop: Pomp, 1996); S. Bruntjen, John Boydell, 1719–
1804: A Study of Patronage and Publishing in Georgian London (New York:
Garland, 1985); L. Calè, Henry Fuseli’s Milton Gallery: ‘Turning Readers into
Spectators’ in Late Eighteenth-Century London (D.Phil Thesis, Oxford 2001); W.
H. Friedman, Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery (New York: Garland, 1976); G.
Schiff, Johann Heinrich Füsslis Milton-Galerie (Zürich: Schweizerisches Institut
für Kunstwissenchaft, 1963).
40 Critical Inquiry 16 (1990), 794–806.
41 See Iser, Act of Reading, p. 165, 168–9, 182–203.
42 See T. Keymer, ‘The Serialization of Tristram Shandy’, Sterne, The Moderns, and
the Novel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), Section II.
43 In the language of contemporary editing, Wesley opts for ‘clear text’ editing,
whereas Fuseli displays the process of production by signposting his editorial
intervention. See D. C. Greetham, ‘The Manifestation and Accommodation of
Theory in Textual Editing’, in Devils and Angels: Textual Editing and Literary
Theory, ed. by P. Cohen (Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1991), pp. 78–
102 and D. C. Greetham, ‘Editorial and Critical Theory’, in Palimpsest: Editorial
Theory in the Humanities, ed. by G. Bernstein and R. E.Williams (Ann Arbour:
University of Michigan Press, 1993), p. 14 for a comparison between editing to
the exposed and open-ended construction of the Centre Pompidou by Renzo
Piano and Richard Rogers.
44 R. Bentley, Milton’s Paradise Lost. A New Edition, by Richard Bentley, D.D.
(London: Knapton, 1732), p. 93, note on III.444–98. For similar justification of
extrapolating interpolation and restoring the cohesion of the text, see also p. 32 on
I.717; p. 34 on I.762; p. 75 on II.1023; p. 215  on IV.268; p. 143 on IV.983;
p. 171 on V.648; p. 231 on VII.391; pp. 334–5 on X.731.
45 Bentley, Paradise Lost, p. 281 on IX.386.
46 For textuality reduced to a set of ‘turns’, a discontinuity assimilating theatre to
magic lanterns, see Meisel, Realizations (Princeton, 1983), pp. 38–51.
47 The 1791 Milton subscription proposals confirm this impression: see Milton.
Proposals for engraving and publishing by Subscription Thirty Capital Plates, from
Subjects in Milton; to be painted principally, if not entirely, by Henry Fuseli, R.A.
and for copying them in a Reduced Size to accompany a Correct and Magnificent
Edition, embellished also with Forty-Five Elegant Vignettes, of his Poetical Works,
with Notes, Illustrations, and Translations of the Italian and Latin Poems, by William
Cowper, for the Inner Temple, Esq. (London: Johnson, 1791), p. 1.
48 J. Wesley, An Extract from Milton’s Paradise Lost with Notes (1763), second
edition (London: s.l., 1791), p. 48, lines 561–565.
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49 See Bentley, Milton’s Paradise Lost, p. 61 commenting on II. 659–66 and p. 26 on
I. 579–87, and M.Walsh, Shakespeare, Milton, and Eighteenth-Century Literary Editing:
The Beginnings of Interpretive Scholarship (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1997), p. 72.
50 Wesley, Extract, pp. 55–56, see lines 791–2, 802–4, 809–10, 822.
51 On Bentley’s excisions on grounds of low or distasteful subject matter, see J. K.
Hale, ‘Paradise Purified: Dr Bentley’s Marginalia for his 1732 Edition of Paradise
Lost’, Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society X: 1 (1991), 58–74: 63–
52 Milton Gallery pictures and catalogue entries are abbreviated MG followed by
Catalogue Number, according to the list published in the exhibition catalogue, see
Royal Academy Archives, sign.: Fu/4/1/1–8, Milton Gallery. A Catalogue of the
First Series of Pictures and Sketches, from the Poetic Works of John Milton. By
Henry Fuseli, R.A. (London, n.d. [1799, 1800]); The gallery catalogue excerpts
are reproduced in Knowles, I, 205–221 and 231–235 (1800 additions [RA, sign.:
FU/4/1/8]). The list published in The Times (28 may 1799) is generally
consistent with the Milton Gallery Catalogue, but it fails to reproduce small
53 V. Shklovskii, Theory of Prose, tr. B.Sher (Elmwood Park, IL.: Dalkey Archive
Press, 1990), pp. 66, 68–71.
54 The Gentleman’s Magazine (June 1799), pp. 508–9.
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